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This week’s calligraphy prompt was to create something about the essentials for learning the art of calligraphy. Anything you know that helped you along your own journey, or essential advice you would give someone who is just starting. I thought about tools and alphabets, practice and all the time it takes to train your hand to do what your brain can conceive. When I boiled it all down I always remind myself each time I start that it is only paper and ink and time, let go and be willing to fail. I used Strathmore black drawing paper, white gel pens, gold Sharpies markers, and blue and white colored pencils.

I cannot even think about all the pieces of paper I have used to test, try, fail, try again, then fail some more. I usually have a scrap piece of paper where I test each tool before I use it on the final work. It helps me blot out bubbles and drips of ink before I hit the ‘good’ paper. I use that same paper to test layout ideas and spelling of words, as well as best fit for textures and which pens bleed. There is nothing worse than working on your final piece and ink bleeds or doesn’t take to the paper, and you didn’t check first and have to start all over. I usually say some unpleasant things, take a deep breath and start again. Failure is a great learning activity, best done not on your best paper.

Between my personal obsession with pens and paper, and my desire to do different and unique things, I spend a lot of time testing and improvising before I do my final work. The best part is no one but me knows all the pens sandpaper I have used to get to the final version. Years of experience have taught me to be patient, experiment first, then let it rip. Many of my ideas are one way in my head and end up as something very different in the final piece. I am continually learning new tools, techniques, and tricks, and how to let go and go with the flow of the ink. Sometimes my improvisations are better than any planned work I could create.

When trying something new, try, try, try and fail, fail, fail, learn, learn, learn and then repeat as often as possible. This applies to anything in life.

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